Saudi renews call for Taliban to renounce Al-Qaeda

AFP , Saturday 18 Feb 2012

Saudi government urge Taliban leaders to lay down their weapons and renounce Al-Qaeda to start peace talks with Afghan government

A senior Saudi official on Saturday called on the Taliban to lay down their arms and renounce Al-Qaeda as preconditions for Saudi-mediated peace talks with the Afghan government.

"Saudi Arabia's conditions for mediation ... are that the Taliban lay down their weapons, engage in the political process and renounce Al-Qaeda," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"These are our three demands, and they have not changed in three years," he added.

The Taliban, leading a 10-year insurgency against Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government, have denied reports of planned peace talks in Saudi Arabia, despite claims by Afghan officials that the two sides would hold talks in the kingdom separate from those planned in Qatar.

Taliban negotiators have begun preliminary discussions with the United States in Qatar on plans for peace talks aimed at ending the decade-long war. They have also announced plans to set up an office in Doha.

In late January, Afghan government spokesman Akim Hasher said Kabul has "always preferred Saudi to Qatar."

A member of the Taliban's leadership council has told AFP "the idea" that the Taliban should have a point of contact in Saudi Arabia was being pushed by the Pakistan and Afghan governments.

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